When you’re busy writing a book, you’re probably not thinking much about building a mailing list; but when it comes time to publish and sell your book, you’ll find you’re much better off if you’ve already got a list of email subscribers. Email marketing is one of the best ways to create pre-publicity buzz for your book, shape your book to fit your audience, promote your book, and sell your book. Here are eight ways email marketing can help your sales and why launching your list before your book comes out makes sense.

Building Your Audience

A mailing list lets you build an audience for your book before you publish it or even before you write it. You can do this by starting a blog to promote articles and videos anticipating topics from your book. Syndicate your blog content using tools like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to connect with people interested in your topic and invite them to visit your blog. When they do visit, make sure you have an opt-in form they can use to sign up for your mailing list. Offering free information as an incentive is a good way to get them to subscribe.

Doing this lets you connect with your readers early, setting the stage for sales later. It also gives you several other huge advantages.

Conducting Market Research

Once you have blog visitors and a mailing list, you can use your list to conduct market research and find out more about who your readers are and what they’re interested in. Blog comments, polls, forum conversations, and email conversations are a few ways to gather market research information from your subscribers.

Use these tools to ask basic market research questions about your readers. What demographic groups do they represent? What problems do they need solved? What benefits do they hope to get from reading about your topic? What do they think of your competitors? What do they like or dislike about what you have to say? What would the like to see in your book?

Promoting Your Book

When your book comes out, you can use your mailing list to promote your book. You can send out advance announcements about your book’s impending publication as well as post-publication announcements.

Developing Joint Venture Promotions

Having your own mailing list makes it easier for you to recruit joint venture partners willing to do cross-promotions where they promote you to their lists in exchange for similar consideration. You can also earn commissions from promoting others’ books and products this way.

Selling Your Book

Your mailing list serves as an effective tool for selling your book. You can use your list to announce early-bird sales, regular sales, and follow-up promotions. You’ll find this works most effectively if you combine your announcement with email marketing tactics like newsletters, discounts, bonuses, and contests.

Generating Repeat Sales

Your list can also serve as a platform for turning your book sales into repeat business. You can sell spin-off products related to your book’s topic, such as information presented in other formats like audios and videos, sequels to your book, or consulting services related to your book. You can also promote other products and services of interest to your list.

Generating Reviews

Asking your mailing list to review your book is one of the best ways to get successful reviews posted on Amazon and other sites, which is a key to successful book promotion. You can encourage reviews by giving away free review copies to key subscribers who are in a good position to promote you, and by offering incentives such as bonuses to other reviewers.

Generating Referrals

Finally, you can ask your list subscribers to refer you to others who would be in the market for your book. An effective way to do this is to offer an incentive for referrals, such as a bonus or coupon.

These are a few reasons to start building your list before you publish your book. If you follow this advice, you’ll find that selling your book comes much easier with much less stress and much more sales when it comes time to publish.

Google’s 2011 Panda update decreased the SEO value of syndicated content, which lowered the rankings of many press release sites. This in turn diminished the SEO value of links from these sites. Google’s 2012 Penguin update has had additional effects on lowering the rankings of over optimized sites and links, including over optimized press releases.

However, lower SEO value for press releases does not mean no SEO value. Press releases remain an important publicity and SEO strategy, and continue to be recommended by marketing and search engine professionals. But getting good SEO results from press releases does require playing by the new rules. Here are a few tips for getting better SEO results from post-Panda press releases.

1. Talk to the Human User

Google’s new algorithms are designed to better simulate how human beings interpret language. This makes it imperative to write with the human user in mind and not sound like you’re just talking to a computer.

Writing to the human user starts with market research. Define your target demographic as precisely as possible, using categories such as location, gender, age, education, profession, income, buying habits, and interests. The better you know your audience, the better you can speak to their needs in your press release.

Follow up by comparing your market research with keyword research to find where your audience congregates online and what keywords interest them. This puts the keywords in the context of human users, instead of the other way around. The latter is a mistake Internet marketers often make when they target irrelevant keywords.

2. Put the Story First

Writing to human users also means putting the story first in your press release. In today’s social media context, the most effective type of press release is one focused on a story that benefits your audience by entertaining them or informing them about something relevant to their needs and interests.

An example is a story that builds on a popular current news item of interest to many readers. For instance, when the Giants won the Super Bowl, it created a great opportunity for salsa dance teachers to capitalize on popular interest in Victor Cruz (and in fact some did). Similarly, the Olympics create a marketing opportunity for any product that can be associated with an Olympic athlete or event, so for an example a shoe company might do a press release about how a gold medalist wears their brand and what benefits they get from their selection.

3. Use Natural Language for Content and Links

Writing for human users also means using more natural language for content and links. Keywords are still important, but Google’s latest updates penalize what they categorize as “over optimization” of keywords.

Under current rules, single keyword phrases should be emphasized more sparingly than SEO experts once recommended. Target keywords should still appear in the title, subheadings, and body of the press release, but should not be repeated excessively. Instead of repeating the target keyword too often, one or two related keyword phrases should be included to indicate the context of the target keyword.

Keyword phrases should also be used more sparingly in links from and to your press release. Using the exact same keyword phrase for every link, once recommended by many SEO consultants, can now be interpreted as over optimization. Don’t use the same keyword phrase to link to your site or press release more than once from the same place. Use a variety of phrases for links, including natural reference phrases without keywords, such as “read more.”

Natural links should go to a variety of pages on your site. Don’t always link to the same page of your site in all your press releases.

Finally, natural links are natural in number. Link to your site from 1 to 3 times in one press release. Do not link to your site more than 3 times.

4. Seek Quality Links Over Quantity

Google’s updates have also sought to discourage unnatural syndication tactics. It’s better to link from a few quality sites than a lot of low-quality sites. This approach contrasts with syndication methods that generate links from as many sites as possible without concern for relevance or quality.

Quality links include links from more professional press release sites like PRWeb. But press releases should also be distributed to key sites in your market niche, not just press release syndication sites. Your distribution network should include social media sites.

5. Write Original Press Releases

Last but not least, Google’s new rules place a premium on original content instead of syndicated reprints. This means that if you intend to syndicate on any scale, you should create multiple versions of your press releases rather than syndicating the same one everywhere. Just changing a single paragraph or two is no longer enough to pass the original content test. The best practice is to find multiple story angles for the same topic, which underscores the earlier emphasis on putting the story first. A good, original press release should be like a good news story with an original slant on its topic.